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Forum staff reports, Published June 07 2012

Seattle man pleads guilty in Griggs County to rare criminal charge of stowing away

COOPERSTOWN, N.D. – A 28-year-old Seattle man pleaded guilty to a rare criminal charge of stowing away aboard a train after BNSF officials discovered him in a car this week.

According to documents filed in Griggs County District Court, Michael Jacob Fox was found sleeping in an engine compartment by a BNSF conductor around 5:30 p.m. Monday.

After being discovered, Fox got off the train, but then got back on in a different car where he tried to hide, documents alleged.

Fox pleaded guilty to the Class A misdemeanor charge at a hearing today. He will serve a year of unsupervised probation and pay a $400 fine.

Griggs County Assistant State’s Attorney Marina Spahr said this was the first instance she’s encountered the stowaway charge.

“I did not know the (statute) number of anything like that,” she said. “We had to research that.”

Spahr said the statute was enacted in 1973, but hadn’t been used in Griggs County since at least 1998 or 1999, and perhaps for much longer.

“We had to start from scratch,” she said.